Get In The Water

Living on the beach, we are no strangers to powerful water. There is nothing more soothing, relaxing, calming than the sound of the ocean as it meets the beach, each time as though it were the first time. But this water was different.

This summer our students spent a week in Colorado hiking, rappelling, climbing, and rafting.   It was an amazing adventure experience – especially for our ministry, located at sea level,      with warm gulf water and sand dunes – to see God through the glory and grandeur of the Rocky Mountain range.

The first day there, we suited up for our eight mile hike.  The air was crisp and clean.  The fragrant mountain breeze cooled us, seemingly at our every request, as we hiked.  The trees provided a glorious canopy of shade since most of us felt even closer to the sun than usual.  The landscape was nothing short of miraculous.

Trees towered.  Pine needles blanketed the ground.  Boulders beckoned the weary to rest.  This landscape was so very foreign to beach dwellers.

Equally alien were the rushing rivers and streams.

Living on the beach, we are no strangers to powerful water.  There is nothing more soothing, relaxing, calming than the sound of the ocean as it meets the beach, each time as though it were the first time.  But this water was different.

Watching it rush through its designated route, I couldn’t help but think about God.

This water was powerful.  Pulling large stones from their hiding places.  Making rough edges smooth.  Sometimes creating a difficult route for fish to get where they thought they should be.

This water was renewing.  As I watched its mighty flow, it was obvious that what was in the water where I sat just a moment ago was now far downstream.  It made me wonder how much change the bank had seen as it sat silently watching the river-friend work its renewal.  Microbes swept away in the rushing current.  Tress that used to be upstream relocated downstream.  Silt carpeting the river bottom that once belonged to the mountain.  The water changes everything.

And then I thought about my students – seeing this kind of water, some for the very first time.  There was no doubt they could see its power – its renewing properties…even from far away.  At times, we were so far up the mountain that the stream looked like a ribbon of white flowing through the valley.  But you could hear the power in its voice as it sang its song to nature.  When we got close enough to sit at the water’s edge, there was no denying its powerful force as it rushed to its final destination.

And it broke my heart.  As I listened to the majestic water’s roar, watched it change everything in its path, I realized a devastating truth.

The water doesn’t really work if you don’t get in.  I am praying that my students experience the refreshing, renewing, life-giving water from a personal, intimate vantage point.

It is one thing to recognize how beautiful and glorious the rushing water is from the safety of shore.  It’s a completely different matter to allow the current to sweep you away – smoothing your rough edges – changing the direction you thought you were going – renewing everything.

I am praying that our students experience THAT kind of water – the deafening roar of life anew – the panic of going in a completely different direction than planned – life-altering, life-giving, living water.  I want them to know THAT kind of water long after we return to the beach waters of the gulf.

Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry??

…everyone has a role to play in the student ministry – the parent, the college student, the senior adult, even the one who says ‘I’ll never work with the teenagers’ – especially them!

So why this title – when it’s pretty obvious not everyone could possibly be called to youth ministry?

I’m a veteran youth pastor – and over the years I have developed the philosophy that, indeed, everyone has a role to play in the student ministry – the parent, the college student, the senior adult, even the one who says ‘I’ll never work with the teenagers’ – especially them!

I love students – and while I realize that’s not everyone’s slice of pizza, I believe people can be so enriched, enhanced, and challenged by finding that one special nitch in the student ministry where they can thrive…

Sometimes that’s driving kids to and from church. Sometimes it’s making sandwiches for a youth meeting. Sometimes it’s leading a small group, showing up at a basketball game, praying over one specific student, or listening to music you’d never listen to in the comfort of your own car.

Regardless – I know it’s true – EVERYONE can love Jesus by loving teenagers!